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Mini Road Trips

Sean Visintainer - 04/19/16

Missouri River Brown Trout.

Mo fish - Mo fun

I've always considered Spokane a hub for many destinations around the West. While Spokane itself is not a destination for many anglers, we have numerous quality fisheries nearby that are not heavily pressured and we have well known destinations within an easy drive for an extended weekend.

One of those fisheries that is a reasonable distance from Spokane is the Missouri River in Montana. For those that are not familiar with the Missouri, or the "Mo" as it is more affectionally called, it is located between Helena and Great Falls along highway 15. From Spokane, this world famous fishery is approximately 5.5hrs and has scenery that varies from farmland to more rugged canyon like terrain. I've been to the Mo a number of times and find that the scenery is more-and-more captivating each time I visit.

During runoff, many of our local rivers like the St. Joe, Clark Fork, North Fork Coeur d'Alene and Spokane become unfishable with high flows or muddy waters. The contrary is for the Missouri River. The Mo is a tailwater fishery and flows at a cool, consistent level below Holter Dam. Because of it's controlled supply of cold water, it provides perfect habitat for growing thousands of large trout and offers abundant insect hatches. This is one truly special fishery. While there are many great tailwater fisheries around the country, we are very fortunate to have this world class fishery within striking distance of Spokane for an easy weekend getaway.

This Missouri will fish virtually year round, but it is the spring time that it really starts to come alive. Hatches of midges, then bwo's, and even a few skwalas will bring fish to the surface during April and May. Nymph fishing is the most consistent with offerings like scuds, baetis, and midges being the standard right now. Streamer fishing whether from the boat or swinging from the shore is also a good choice especially before the weeds begin to get too thick. For the dry fly enthusiast, the bwo hatch becomes quite prolific during April and during our recent visit last weekend we got a chance to see some heads start to binge feed on the afternoon hatch of blue wings.

There are many lodging options for anglers visiting the Missouri as well as shuttle services and fly shops. Whether you are a bank angler, or a boat fisherman, you should consider a short trip to the Missouri. Whether it is to escape runoff in your local area, a change of scenery, or the chance of landing a brown trout of a lifetime, I have yet to be disappointed with the "Mo".


  • BWO - Blue-Winged Olive Mayfly.
  • Thompson looking for rising fish.

  • Brown Trout.
  • Missouri River Brown Trout.

  • Brown Trout.


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